Thursday, May 31, 2007

Latin Country Music Show June 9

Latin Market Communications
Press Release

Nashville, TN - May 31, 2007: Hispanic Country Music legend Johnny Rodriguez will give the opening performance at the CMA Music Festival's "Latin Country Music Show" on Saturday, June 9th at 12:30 PM on the Chevy Music Tour Stage, located at the Sommet Center at the corner of Broadway and Fifth Avenue. Also performing will be Bobby Marquez, John Arthur Martinez, Melanie Torres and Janie Feliz.

This free concert is a wonderful opportunity for Nashville's Hispanic community to support Hispanic artists who are bringing a new Latin flavor and sound to Country Music and to attend Nashville's signature musical event.

Rodriguez, who hails from Sabinal,Texas (just 90 miles from the Mexican border) became known worldwide in the 1970s for songs such as "Pass Me By (If You're Only Passing Through)," "Riding My Thumb to Mexico," and many more. Rodriguez continues to play concerts across the United States and to champion the Hispanic Country movement as the spokesperson for the U.S. Hispanic Country Music Association (USHCMA).
Texas native Martinez, like Rodriquez, grew up on a musical diet of Country, Rock and Latin music. He won national attention on USA Network's "Nashville Star" television show and continues to play a major role in bringing the Latin sound to Country Music.

Torres participated in the third season of "Nashville Star." Industry insiders have already dubbed her a star in the making.

The afternoon concert will be hosted by Maritza Baca, President of the United States Hispanic Country Music Association (USHCMA) and Eva Melo, news anchor of Nashville's Telefutura Channel 42 TV station.

CMA Music Festival, which launched in 1972 as Fan Fair®, takes place annually in Downtown Nashville. The four-day festival features more than 70 hours of live music, 30-plus hours of autograph signings, more than 400 Country Music artists and celebrities, popular exhibits, theme zones and special events. The 2006 CMA Music Festival was the biggest in event history with more than 161,000 fans throughout the event representing every state and 27 foreign countries. Half the net proceeds of CMA Music Festival are donated to the Nashville Alliance for Public Education to advance and improve music education in Nashville's public schools through the Keep the Music Playing program. 2007 CMA Music Festival takes place June 7-10. For ticket information, schedules and more, visit

CMA Music Festival is organized and produced by the Country Music Association. CMA Board member Tony Conway is the Executive Producer of CMA Music Festival. Premiere Radio Networks is the official radio broadcaster. Chevy: The Official Ride of Country Music. Borders® Books & Music: The Official Music & Book retailer of the CMA Music Festival. Additional promotional partners include Allstate Insurance Company, American Airlines, AT&T- Tennessee, Back Yard Burgers, BMI, Carl Black Cavender's, Chevrolet, CiCi's Pizza®, Coca-Cola®, Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum, Country Weekly, Coyote Ugly® Saloon, CMT®, Crisco®, Digital Rodeo, Dr Pepper®, GAC, Gallo Family Vineyards, Great American Country, GEICO, Gillette Venus® Breeze, Grand Ole Opry, Greased Lightning Cleaning Products®, Gibson Guitar®, Hard Rock Café Nashville, Loveless Café, Mossy Oak Apparel, Music Festivals®, New Holland Agriculture Equipment S.p.A., On the Run® at Exxon, Prilosec OTC®, Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation, Sam's Town Hotel & Gambling Hall, Shane Co., Sharpie, Super 8®, Tennessee Education Lottery Corp®., TGI Fridays®, The Sportsman Channel®, Wrangler® and Yamaha Motor Corp., USA, Yankee Candle®, EMT services are provided by Vanderbilt Sports Medicine and Vanderbilt Life Flight. Fan Fair® is a registered trademark of CMA.

Chevrolet is the "Official Ride of Country Music," and continues its long-time support of the CMA Music Festival and the Country Music Awards.

Chevrolet is one of America's best-selling automotive brands. With the largest dealer network in the United States, Chevy is the leader in full-size trucks and the leader in sales of vehicles priced $35,000 and above. Chevrolet delivers more-than-expected value in every vehicle category. Chevy delivers expressive design, spirited performance and great value with standard features usually found only on more expensive vehicles.

For information on the 2007 CMA Music Festival, contact CMA Communications Department at (615) 244-2840.

Latin Market Communications
Andrew Vaughan
United States Hispanic Country Music Association
Maritza Baca

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Immigration Reform Is Due

Comprehensive reform would be just


Appearing imminent, a bipartisan effort to draft an immigration bill could bring an end to what made Latinos the favorite punching bag of the year.

If comprehensive immigration reform passes, the ones now cornered in fear while trained into accepting the sinister double standard of being liked for doing the cooking but not allowed a seat at the table, will now be our "legal" neighbors. As if there is anything such as an "illegal" human being.

Overnight, our city appeared enraged by the unacceptable invasion of the Mexicans, disregarding the political correctness that would make us recognize that there are 20 Spanish-speaking countries in a continent that geography books worldwide refer to as America. What worried me beyond the "they took our jobs" rhetoric, or the "looking the other way" at violating labor and immigration laws, was our hesitancy to offer hard-working Hispanic families, the backbone of our sudden economic prosperity, the core elements of what makes us the United States of America: respect and protection.

According to the U.S Census, Hispanic buying power now at $700 billion will reach $1 trillion by 2010. Latino women-owned businesses alone number 553,618, employ 320,000, and generate $44.4 billion in sales; 7.6 million Hispanic citizens voted in the past presidential election and 1.1 million Hispanics are veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

Back to profits: These numbers do not include revenue generated by undocumented workers. Beyond the dollar sign, what should matter is the price paid for incubating a population of voiceless slaves with no rights. What good is leadership that discriminates and divides us?

Moral duty to resolve problem

A compromise is due. From different perspectives, the blame for illegal immigration could be placed on a flawed system in denial of our labor needs. Or perhaps it was our good nature that helped those willing, but lacking work permits, language or connections.

Unable to relate to their struggle, we often take for granted lifestyles that will never be possible for others. Beyond convenient politics, it is our moral duty to resolve this without hurting anyone.

A decade in America brings back memories, thinking about what is best for us, of the words of some I've been fortunate to meet that have remained with me. Actor/activist Edward James Olmos once asked me: If you knew of a place in the world where your loved ones could have the dignity and opportunity that any human being deserves, wouldn't you want them there? Or Dr. Arun Gandhi sharing what his grandfather Mahatma believed, leading us to talk about America, often referred to as a "melting pot'' when it is much more like a "tossed salad," where "every ingredient that is kept whole makes it taste so good.'' Our diversity makes us a rich nation.

At the end the best comes from 'Mamá Teresita', my grandmother, who taught me that "colored or not, different after all, under God we are all equal." She always wanted the best for me. Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at my U.S. citizenship ceremony last September touched a familiar place in my heart, for it is not where we come from that unites us as a nation, but our ideal that everyone belongs and deserves a chance.

(First published in The Tennessean Newspaper on 01/03/07).

Yuri Cunza is President of the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
He can be reached at

Monday, May 28, 2007

Hispanic Nashville through other eyes

Potentially less frequent posts ahead

A few days ago I asked a few friends and acquaintances to post here on As a result, I will sit back and be a reader for a little while instead of a writer/editor.

The invitees, potential guest "hosts" here at the Hispanic Nashville Notebook, were chosen somewhat at random but at least have some personal stake in the life and work of Hispanic people in Nashville. Diana Holland kicked things off with this post. I am interested in seeing whether others accept my invitation.

Like a group facilitator, I am willing to endure a little silence to allow the group some time to muster the courage (and/or time, interest, etc.) to speak. It may be sparse posting for a while...

Photo by Myrte

Sunday, May 27, 2007


"They're speaking our languages, describing God's mighty works!"

When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.

There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were thunderstruck. They couldn't for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, "Aren't these all Galileans? How come we're hearing them talk in our various mother tongues?

Parthians, Medes, and Elamites;
Visitors from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene;
Immigrants from Rome, both Jews and proselytes;
Even Cretans and Arabs!
"They're speaking our languages, describing God's mighty works!"

Text from Acts 2

Wikipedia entry on Pentecost here

Photo by Parc Cruz

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Good on Paper

by Diana Holland

'Committed, dedicated, results-driven, people-person seeks opportunity to contribute to large corporation …'

One’s resume, bio or curriculum vitae is always good on paper. It is almost like a rule that cannot be broken, like a law that we must abide by.

“Well, what am I going to do, write discouraging stuff about me?”, a Hispanic job applicant told me once, as I delivered a workshop on job hunting tips.

So why is it that we seem to have a knack for stuff that is ‘good on paper’? What gets us excited about something that sounds so good, that it is almost impossible to be true? Or is it that we are constantly looking to reaffirm that we, as human beings, can be regularly deceived or tricked into something that we then realize we don’t want or like?

‘Good looking, charming, friendly, sweet twenty-something girl, looking for Blue Prince’, reads a posting in an online dating website…

Personally, I am very leery of what sounds too good to be true, but trust me, I am tempted to go there, every time, and sometimes I do.

When I read about the US immigration dialogue, I can’t help to think that, at some point, it all looked good on paper. Why would someone, anyone, put together a set of laws that would not look 'good on paper'? I am sure that back in 1986, when the ‘amnesty’ was approved, it looked good on paper. Can we blame those who believed in the ‘good on paper’ resolution back then, about the troubles that we are encountering now?

I regularly hear comments like, “This immigration issue is very frustrating…”, “How is it that we got to this point…”, and, my favorite, “All we have to do is start from scratch…”, and I can’t help but wonder why is it that we cannot accept that, sometimes, 'good on paper' will be just that: good on paper, not good in life.

But then, as my student said, what are we going to do, make it look 'bad on paper'? Would any of us want to support, let alone vote for, something that doesn’t look good on paper?

“Well, you know, they could’ve thought about it more before they voted on it”, my friend, who is waiting for his immigration papers to come thru, told me recently.

Yes, it's true. We can analyze, and review, and then analyze again, and we can continue doing this indefinitely and, frankly, never come up with the perfect idea or program. However, we need to move forward, and take action. And that is why we write stuff that looks ‘good on paper’ and then set out to apply it in real life.

And in the process, some will benefit, and some will not; some will be disappointed, and some will be very satisfied with the outcome. And some will not be affected at all by it.

‘Good on paper’ initiates the conversation. It opens up the dialogue to move forward, to continue with the process and mostly, to be open to connecting. If resumes didn’t look ‘good on paper’, it would take forever to get a job interview.

Getting the foot in the door is a first step that cannot be avoided. Once we are in, we can sit down at the table, share a meal, and review how good the ‘good on paper’ really is.

And that is why I like to talk about the immigration 'dialogue', rather than the immigration 'debate’. Diverse thoughts and ideas about an issue are good, as long as we can move along in the process. That is dialogue, not debate.

It is in the diversity of thought and in the diversity of ideas where we can make the ‘good on paper’, become ‘good in life’.

Los Duran, Deftones, and Ozomatli: Nashville Scene Critics Picks for live music

Latin music, musicians coming to town this weekend, through Tuesday

"Similar to ... Los Lobos"

"Intelligence, melody, atmosphere"

"A seamless expanse of hip-hop, jazz, rock, funk and salsa"

The Nashville Scene's Critics Picks column this week features three bands with latin sounds and/or Hispanic band members who will be performing in Nashville over the next few days: Los Duran, Deftones, and Ozomatli. Los Duran perform Saturday and Sunday; Deftones perform Saturday, and Ozomatli perform next Tuesday:
"LOS DURAN Gerard Duran and his band blend R&B, funk, jazz and guitar-centric rock for a sound at times similar to their fellow East Los Angelenos Los Lobos, though with less of a Latino bent..."

"DEFTONES ...the Deftones have from day one suggested intelligence, melody, atmosphere and an underlying yearning to reveal the delicate aspects of their voice. But, while frontman Chino Moreno and DJ/keyboardist Frank Delgado—easily one of the most understated, non-clichéd DJs working in a rock band today—have consistently brought a vision of ambience to the band..."

"OZOMATLI Reflecting the urban polyglot of their Los Angeles home, Ozomatli purvey a Latin dance party fueled by horns and covering a seamless expanse of hip-hop, jazz, rock, funk and salsa. The vibrant sound is impressive live, and the band won a Grammy for its third album, 2004’s Street Signs. ... Ozomatli’s new album, Don’t Mess With the Dragon, continues the 10-member collective’s multicultural explorations with a particular emphasis on its Latin pop roots...."

Most Americans want new road to citizenship

"Amnesty" is a red herring

Update 8:55 pm 5/24/07: a NYT/CBS News poll reveals the same sentiment: "Taking a pragmatic view on a divisive issue, a large majority of Americans want to change the immigration laws to allow illegal immigrants to gain legal status and to create a new guest worker program to meet future labor demand, the poll found."

From an op-ed in the Washington Post:

As usual, those yelling "amnesty" are the loudest voices. But they are increasingly out of sync with the public on immigration. Poll after poll in the past year shows 60 to 85 percent of voters in favor of an overhaul that would allow illegal immigrants to earn their way to citizenship by meeting certain requirements -- generally far less stringent requirements than those in the Senate compromise, which includes a $5,000 fine, at least a 13-year wait and a trip back to the immigrant's country of origin.

More striking still, even many voters who consider earned citizenship "amnesty" so badly want the immigration problem solved that they no longer care about the label. According to the Tarrance Group and Lake Research Partners, 33 percent of the public think earned citizenship is "the same as amnesty." But a full 62 percent of even these people support the program anyway, compared with 29 percent who oppose it. In other words, less than one-third of one-third of Americans -- just under 10 percent -- agree with the talk-radio hosts screaming "amnesty" to block an overhaul.

Photo by Gene Hunt

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Blindness is less of a barrier for Puerto Rican Trevecca grad than bureaucracy is for Venezuelan Owen grad

The Tennessean reported here on the graduation of Puerto Rican Jessica Smith from Trevecca University. Smith is blind and has worked part-time as a Spanish translator in Nashville. She has plans to start a family and return to graduate school. As a Puerto Rican, Smith is a U.S. citizen and has no immigration bureaucracy to navigate.

The Tennessean also reported here on the graduation of Venezuelan student Luis Pacheco from Vanderbilt's Owen Graduate School of Management and the prospect that he will not be able to legally remain in the United States, despite the fact that he is well educated and has applied through the proper channels.

"The H-1B visa program is designed to give foreign workers an opportunity to work in the United States for up to six years in their field of expertise. The visas are awarded to 65,000 new foreign-born workers by lottery each year. This total is known as the 'cap.' An additional 20,000 visas are reserved for those with master's degrees or higher."

"This year, the capped H-1B visa program began accepting applications on its traditional April 1 start date. U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Service, the agency that processes the applications, had received 'well in excess of 120,000 petitions,' and on April 2 it officially closed the lottery, Christopher Bentley, an agency spokesman, said."

"Last year, applications were accepted until May 26; in 2005, applications were accepted until Aug. 10."

"Pacheco said's attorney told him that the H-1B visa petition submitted on his behalf arrived by the April 2 cutoff. But in the six weeks that have followed, neither Pacheco nor Amazon has received a lottery decision. It is unclear whether Amazon will hire him if he can work only one year."

"'Obviously, the main point of doing the MBA is finding a job,' Pacheco said, 'When you come here you know this process is going to be hard. But I had no idea this year would be like this.'"

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A prank. A baby. Hot sauce and tamales.

Prayers, hands, songs lifted to God for compassion in immigrant prayer vigil

"We are families. We are people of faith. We are part of this community. Pass immigration reform that honors these American values."

Crowd estimated at 500

American flags, white shirts abound

The Tennessean reports here that 500 people gathered at the immigrant compassion prayer vigil yesterday at War Memorial Plaza in downtown Nashville.

Pastors, children, musicians, and at least one politician (Rep. Rob Briley) took the microphone in a plea for Godly values to infuse the immigration bureaucracy reform process and for politicans to integrate their religious values with their political power.

At the front of the gathering, children held up a banner that read, "We are families. We are people of faith. We are part of this community. Pass immigration reform that honors these American values."

Excerpts from the Tennessean:
"'I'm here because I first want to pray that God moves the hearts of all the congressmen in this country,' said Maria Vazquez of Hermitage, who brought her four sons to the prayer vigil."

"Several Hispanic pastors led the audience in songs and prayer. 'Today I'm not here for people to listen to me,' said Freddy Valcarcel, pastor of Lighthouse Baptist Church in Clarksville. 'Today I'm here to pray for people to listen to God's mandate.'"
In April, the Tennessean's Dwight Lewis quoted various Nashville ministers on why they link their faith to the plight of immigrants:
"'A couple of years ago, we entered into a covenant with a Hispanic United Methodist Church,' the Rev. James Cole of the Woodbine United Methodist Church on Nolensville Road, told the audience. 'We wanted to start from the basis that we are called to live as God lives and loves.'"

"'Love one another with mutual affection. Extend hospitality to the strangers.'"

"The Rev. Ann Van Dervoort, associate priest of the St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Franklin, 'In February, I was challenged to be a prophetic force, to preach love when the topic of immigration was hot and misunderstood.'"

"'We are all called to be prophetic if we dare. It was immigrants who were keeping our church so very clean, and it was immigrants who were keeping our children. For me, if I just changed a few hearts and minds, it was important.'"
As they did last year in a downtown march of much greater numbers, the people who attended this vigil wore mostly white shirts in a gesture of peace. Unlike last year, however, this year's gathering displayed only American flags, likely due to public backlash and misinterpretation of various home country flags flown in last year's rallies.

See more vigil pictures here:

Monday, May 21, 2007

Prayer vigil for immigrant compassion and bureaucracy reform tonight at Legislative Plaza

"We are families, we are people of faith, we are contributors to this community"

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition announced a community prayer vigil to be held at 5pm tonight at Legislative Plaza in downtown Nashville, where immigrants and others will gather in solidarity with one another and in support of a compassionate reform of the federal immigration bureaucracy. The press release is below:

Community Prayer Vigil to Show Support for Compassion Towards Immigrants and for Fair, Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Those present will urge congress to improve the compromise proposal recently announced by U.S. Senate negotiators so that it honors family, faith and hard work

On Monday, May 21, 2007, at 5pm, hundreds of Tennesseans will gather in the Legislative Plaza in downtown Nashville at a large prayer vigil for comprehensive immigration reform. During the vigil, religious leaders from several denominations and faiths will urge Tennessee decision-makers to show compassion for immigrants, and create an immigration system that is more just and humane and recognizes the many contributions immigrants make to this country.

During the vigil, some speakers will speak directly about the recent compromise proposal crafted by U.S. Senate leaders. Those speakers will recognize U.S. Senators of both parties for their recent efforts but will also stress the fact that the proposal needs to be improved.

As Alfonso Alarcon, a Latino community member who is helping plan the vigil states,

“The recent Senate proposal appears to include an important path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, recognizing their work and contribution to America. It is important to finally bring people out of the shadows and allow them to fully participate in their communities. However the deal appears to eliminate the family immigration system; creates a new temporary worker program that would result in a permanent underclass of workers with few rights and no ability to participate in our democracy; and limits immigrant due process rights. These particular measures are anti-family, anti-worker, and fundamentally un-American.”

During the vigil:

Immigrants and their supporters will share the message that immigrants are family-oriented people, people of faith, and people of the community, and that comprehensive immigration reform must honor these American values.
Stephen Fotopulos, Policy Director for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC), will discuss the bipartisan compromise on immigration reform announced on May 17 and how it can be improved.

Faith leaders – both immigrant and non-immigrant – are scheduled to speak about issues of faith and belief in an immigration system that acknowledges and rewards hard work and reflects the principles of the American dream.

Marches and rallies occurred across the nation last year and were repeated in lower numbers this year, and Nashville was not among the cities that held a rally earlier this month (story here).

Thousands of people, dressed mostly in white, marched last year in Nashville from the Titans stadium to Legislative Plaza (story here and photos here).

Miss Tennessee Latina and affiliated teen version seek contestants for 2007 crown

Miss America Latina, LLC is looking for contestants to compete in the Miss Tennessee Latina pageant on August 11, 2007 at Tucker Theatre in Murfreesboro from 6PM - 10PM. Contestants do not need to speak Spanish. Winners of the pageant will receive scholarship funds and other prizes. This pageant is for both Miss Teen Tennessee Latina (14-17 years old) and Miss Tennessee Latina (17-27 years old). Miss Teen TN Latina contestants must be at least 14 years of age and not over 17 years of age by September 1, 2007. Miss TN Latina contestants must be at least 18 years of age and not over 27 years of age by December 31st, 2008. Contestants must be of Latin American or Iberian origin by birth or ancestry and a legal resident of the United States. Contestants must continuously reside in Tennessee for a minimum of six (6) months. Contestants must live, study or have been born in Tennessee. Contestants must be single women, who have never been married, given birth to a child, nor been a parent. Contestants must have a good reputation. To apply to enter the pageant or if your company is interested in a sponsorship opportunity contact Marjorie Weller.

Miss America Latina, LLC
Marjorie Weller

Photo: Janet Abeja, Miss Tennessee Latina™ 2006

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Hospitality, unity touted at Luis Palau Nashville CityFest

Purcell: Nashville is friendly and welcoming

Gentry: "Nashville looks like it's never looked before... it is great to see you here in peace, love, and unity."

Ethnically, linguistically diverse crowd

Nashville's Mayor Bill Purcell and Vice Mayor Howard Gentry both touted Nashville as a city of peace, love, diversity, and hospitality from the Broadway stage at the Luis Palau Nashville CityFest yesterday. The comments were made Saturday afternoon as the city officials shared the platform with, and offered the city's welcome to, headliner evangelist Luis Palau.

Mayor Purcell boasted of Nashville being a "friendly" and "welcoming" city. Vice Mayor Gentry said, "Nashville looks like it's never looked before," in an apparent nod to the diversity of the crowd, which was well represented by various ethnic groups, including African-Americans, Asians, caucasians, and indigenous/mestizo Hispanics. "It is great to see you here in peace, love, and unity," continued Gentry to applause. "I want to thank Luis Palau for bringing hope to Nashville," he said.

Prior to the officials' remarks, the seemingly inaccurately named quintet El Trio de Hoy performed in English and Spanish. At one point, the band asked in Spanish, "How many Spanish-speakers do we have here," and received audible applause in response (especially compared to the silence that met the question, "How many of you are from Puerto Rico?"). El Trio de Hoy performs again tonight in Clarksville (details here).

English and Spanish t-shirts in the crowd included references to Bible verses, such as Isaiah 40:31 ("Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint,") and Phillipians 4:13 ("Todo lo puedo en Cristo que me fortalece" - "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.")

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Ramon Cisneros clarifies quote on immigration bureaucracy proposal

Ramon Cisneros, board chairman and acting president of the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce*, is distributing a clarification of his quote in the Tennessean about the immigration bureaucracy modifications proposed by a group of U.S. senators this week:

My quote was..

"This is a country of laws, Undocumented immigrants break the law just as much as those who employ them and the government that fails to enforce them. An Immigration Reform is needed to return everyone to a system of laws"

The Tennessean wrote...
"We have to restore the law... These illegal immigrants are breaking the law."
I thought I needed to clarify this.

Ramon Cisneros

*Hispanic Chamber 101: There are four Hispanic chambers of commerce in Middle Tennessee: in alphabetical order, the first three are the Franklin Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The Tennessean profiled these three chambers in this article in June 2006. A fourth chamber was incorporated in 2006 (the Middle Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce) but no activities have been announced.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Connect to Argentina this weekend: events in Nashville include Luis Palau, Tango Milonga, Fabian Bedne fundraiser

Bedne, Palau and tango all have roots in the South American nation

Other weekend events include dinner over Spanish, Charlemos party, CoverKinds Hispanic health care event, and El Trio de Hoy concert

Tango 'Milonga'


(Argentine Tango Social/Dance Gathering)
Thursday, May 17, 2007
7:00 to 9:00 pm
Ibiza Night Club
15128 Old Hickory Blvd., Nashville, TN 37211
(almost corner with Nolensville Pike, in the Hickory Trace Village strip mall where the Sherwin Williams store is).

Practice and show off your Tango! Socialize and relax, while dancing to a great selection of Tango music.

Tickets are:
$12 per person for non-Tango Nashville members
$8 per person for Tango Nashville members

Photo by Peter Forret

Charlemos y Comamos


A second dinner-and-conversation Spanish chat club has sprung out of the Charlemos Spanish group. A Charlemos y Comamos event is scheduled for this Thursday, May 15 at 7pm, at Nola Restaurant at 2912 West End Ave.

(The first formally organized dinner-and-conversation Spanish chat club in Nashville was the Nashville Spanish Language Meetup Group, organized by Leslee Rose. Boasting almost 200 members, this group meets every Tuesday night and coordinates their events at here.)

Luis Palau's Nashville CityFest


Argentina-born evangelist Luis Palau expects 70,000 attendees at a combination music/sports/entertainment/evangelism event in downtown Nashville at Riverfront Park.

May 19-20, 2007
Riverfront Park
1:30 – 10:00 p.m.

Nashville Sister Cities Charlemos Spanish party


Celebrating international friendships and saying goodbye to Isabel de la Huerga and Ignacio Orviz.


Call 297-4239 or 202-0482 for more information, or e-mail

CoverKids information at Hispanic community event


On May 19, learn more about and sign up for CoverKids, during an event at the Progreso Center, 2720 Nolensville Pike. The event is sponsored by the Hispanic Community Group of Tennessee. CoverKids provides comprehensive health insurance to uninsured children who do not qualify for TennCare.

Health Access America and Health Assist Tennessee, non-profit organizations working to reduce the number of uninsured, will have information, applications and representatives available to educate attendees about the program and assist them with the application. There will also be refreshments, door prizes and activities for children.

Those that wish to apply for CoverKids must bring some proof of total family income, such as a monthly check stub.

CoverKids offers health insurance coverage for children 18 years-old and younger, similar to the benefits offered to dependents of state employees. Emphasis is placed on preventive care and services most needed by children. In addition, there are no pre-existing condition exclusions.

The coverage features no monthly premiums, but each participant will pay reduced co-payments for services.

Hispanic Community Group of Tennessee CoverKids Event
May 19, 2007
4:00pm -7:00pm
Progreso Center
2720 Nolensville Pike
Suite 210
Nashville, TN 37211

*Must bring proof of total family income

Fabian Bedne fundraiser


"The friends of Fabian Bedne"
Cordially invite you to attend our gala event


On Sunday afternoon May, 20, 2007
From 3 to 8 p.M.
At Club Ibiza

15128 Old Hickory Boulevard (615) 331-0382

RSVP Mary-LindenSalter at
or Miguel Torres at (615) 203-1885

El Trio de Hoy in concert


"El Trio De Hoy will be in concert at Faith Outreach Church
731 Windermere Dr, Clarksville, Tn.
The concert is on 20 May with doors opening at 5:30 and the concert starting at 6:30. For more information call 931-358-3010

Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber joins city leaders in "best practices" visit to Baltimore

The Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce* announced its participation in the traditional intercity tourist oriented visit organized by the joint efforts of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce (NACC) and the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau. This year's delegation visited the Baltimore and Washington D.C. region. The Tennessean reported on the trip here.

NAHCC President Yuri Cunza joined a powerful and diverse group of delegates in a very strategic community and regional development initiative that focused on showcasing best practices and lessons learned in a variety of timely issues and projects.

The attendees this year included Mayor Bill Purcell, Vice Mayor Gentry, Congressman Jim Cooper, former Congressman Bob Clement, Orrin Ingram (Ingram Industries), Tammy Geneovese (CMA), Butch Spyridon (Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau), Dr. Pedro Garcia and others.

The leadership of the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is determined to lead with the example by joining in support of initiatives that will advance our community as a whole. "In an effort to be more prepared as we become active participants in shaping the future of our growing community, attending this year's study mission trip will definitely help us position the issues of relevance to our growing Latino population in Nashville as well as the city at large," says NAHCC President Yuri Cunza.

The Nashville delegation of more that 147 business and community leaders returned to Nashville on Tuesday, May 8, 2007.

Highlights and topics considered**:

* A visit to the Washington, D.C. Convention Center for a panel with hospitality and neighborhood leaders;
* A reception for our federal legislative leaders and other D.C. guests, coupled with a unique focus on the importance of our music industry with a "behind the scenes" tour and songwriter's performance at XM Satellite Radio;
* A look at Washington's emphasis on branding;
* Discussions with Washington museum leadership about the creation of a museum for today' visitors; in addition, a session at Baltimore's newly opened Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture;
* The role of higher education in a community with a focus on economic development;
* Community support for sports venues and entities;
* Public education, including charter schools;
* Arts, history and culture as an economic engine; and
* Waterfront development.

*Hispanic Chamber 101: There are four Hispanic chambers of commerce in Middle Tennessee: in alphabetical order, the first three are the Franklin Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The Tennessean profiled these three chambers in this article in June 2006. A fourth chamber was incorporated in 2006 (the Middle Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce) but no activities have been announced.

**Source: Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce

Vanderbilt-funded poll: democracy in Peru threatened by corruption, crime, violence, and low confidence in political system

Democracy has solid majority support in Peru yet still lags behind most other Latin American countries, according to a survey by the Latin American Public Opinion Project released in Lima, Peru. But there is widespread dissatisfaction with the country’s political system and general skepticism about how the government protects Peruvians' rights, according to the report LAPOP issued in cooperation with the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, a Lima-based, independent, non-profit organization devoted to social science research.

“The challenge is to increase the quality of democracy, making institutions more effectively responsive to the requests of the population, hence reducing popular dissatisfaction,” concluded the report by Julio Carrión and Patricia Zárate titled Cultura Política de la Democracia en Perú: 2006. The results were released Monday at the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos to officials in the executive office of the Peruvian government.

The poll was carried out in June 2006 among 1,500 people in Peru shortly after Alan García was elected president. This study is part of a series of surveys by LAPOP's AmericasBarometer, an effort to measure democratic values and behaviors in the Americas using national probability samples of voting-age adults. The surveys are made possible with funding from the United States Agency for International Development and the Center for the Americas at Vanderbilt University. The series covers 19 countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and North America, and is directed by Mitchell A. Seligson, Centennial Professor of Political Science at Vanderbilt University.

Dissatisfaction with the political system in Peru is balanced by relatively high levels of political tolerance toward minorities, the survey shows.

The best scenario for a stable democracy includes both support for the system and political tolerance, said Carrión, LAPOP regional coordinator for Mexico, America Central and South America, and Zárate, a researcher at the Instituto de Estudios Peruanos.

“In Peru, only 1 out of 5 people are in that place. …This number is among the lowest found in Latin America in 2006,” Carrión and Zárate say in the report.

Fragile citizen support of the political system manifests itself in the low levels of confidence in institutions linked to the administration of justice and to political representation. These levels of confidence are among the lowest in the region.

Relatedly, the perception of corruption of public officials is among the highest in the region. The poll found that approximately 30 percent of those interviewed claim to have been victims of at least one act of corruption, whether in the private or the political sphere. This percentage is significantly higher than the numbers registered in Chile (9.4 percent), Colombia (9.7 percent) and Panama (11.3 percent). The report states that citizens more affected by corruption are more willing to tolerate it, thus creating a vicious cycle.

High crime levels also present a significant challenge. Peru is the country with the highest rate of victimization through crime in the entire region, according to the report. More than 25 percent of the people asked stated that they had been victims of a criminal act. Of these, almost 40 percent had been victims of violence. As the study discovered, in Peru crime affects everyone without regard for social or economic status.

While the report noted high levels of citizen involvement in local government, such activism does not seem to translate into higher levels of confidence in the system, in part because the majority of Peruvians (almost 60 percent) feels that they have no influence in political matters. Finally, high citizen participation in strikes and public protests is consistent with the finding that most Peruvians have only a scant level of support for and confidence in their political system.

The publication and data are free to the public and can be obtained at the following link:

LAPOP, a project group in the Center for the Americas at Vanderbilt University, was founded in the 1970s by Seligson to conduct scientific surveys of Latin American citizens about their opinions and behaviors related to building and strengthening democracies. Its new AmericasBarometer now covers nearly the entire Western Hemisphere.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Nissan launches pan-regional Latin American media campaign with Fox Sports

Copa Sudamericana sponsorship negotiated simultaneously across region instead of country-by-country

Deal spans two continents, 25 countries and three content delivery platforms

TV: 30 million viewers via Fox Sports en Español in the United States and across the Spanish-speaking Americas on Fox Sports Latin America

Inaugural El Reto Final Nissan won "Best Foreign Language Program" honors at the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications’ (NAMIC) 13th Annual Vision Awards this year

From Nashville-based Nissan North America, the following press release:

Elevating the Hispanic Upfront dialogue from multiplatform content delivery to multinational brand integration, Fox Pan American Sports today announced that it has signed a three-year, multiplatform integrated sponsorship deal with Nissan that nets the car manufacturer exclusive title sponsorship rights to the prestigious Copa Sudamericana across the United States on Fox Sports en Español, and in Latin America and the Caribbean via Fox Sports Latin America. Spanning television, print and online, the first of its kind deal was conceived in collaboration with Nissan’s strategic Hispanic media planning and buying agencies The Vidal Partnership and OMD, respectively.

Fox Sports en Español will kick off its exclusive coverage of the five-month-long Copa Nissan Sudamericana in August, just in time for the prime auto buying season. “We’re proud to extend our relationship with Nissan and to continue to work closely with some of the industry’s top media agencies to create innovative solutions that not only connect with consumers in a culturally- and lifestyle-relevant manner, but also deliver on our partners’ branding and business objectives,” said Tom Maney, Senior Vice President of Advertising Sales at Fox Sports en Español.

While Nissan North America has been the title sponsor of the Copa Sudamericana for the past two years, its involvement both stateside and across Latin America had previously been negotiated by each of the regions independently of one another.

“Gone are the days when multinational brands can afford to operate in geographic silos. We wanted to own the Copa Sudamericana and to really engage consumers with a consistent message, look and feel pan-regionally we needed to change the way we approach the marketplace,” said Jan Thompson, Vice President of Marketing Communications at Nissan North America. “We saw an opportunity to harness our creativity, strategic thinking and resources across the Spanish-speaking Americas and establish a new Hispanic media paradigm that yields greater engagement and a stronger connection to our brand among this very important and growing audience.”

For The Vidal Partnership, the deal marks yet another breakthrough integrated solution on behalf of Nissan. The second installment of the award-winning El Reto Final Nissan, which airs this May and June on Fox Sports en Español and pits long-time World Cup rivals Mexico and Argentina, was also devised by The Vidal Partnership and created in collaboration with Zeal Television and Animus Group.

“At Vidal we thoroughly understand that to truly engage Hispanic consumers, we must provide them relevant value, be it entertainment, information or a useful tool,” said John-Paul Aguirre, Group Communications Director at The Vidal Partnership. “We are also mindful that the creative solutions we develop for our clients are more than just engaging, they must also maximize cost efficiencies and ROI at every step.”

“The OMD Investment team was challenged by Nissan to seek out sponsorships that help communicate the ‘Shift’ philosophy to Hispanic consumers, using our General Market and Hispanic expertise,” said Allison Klein, Group Director, Investment at OMD. “Because fútbol is the global currency among U.S. Hispanic and Latin American males, partnering with Fox Sports en Español was the perfect opportunity for Nissan to reach this group and maximize synergies by owning and entitling the Copa Nissan Sudamericana.”

To fully engage the target audience of soccer enthusiasts, the three-year deal, which includes the option to extend for a fourth year, incorporates multiple platforms, from television, digital and print to out-of-home and off-channel extensions.

The television component includes full automotive exclusivity, total tournament naming rights, player of the game features, in-game animated graphics, in-program brand integration, and in-field signage to reach more than 30 million viewers via Fox Sports en Español in the United States and across the Spanish-speaking Americas on Fox Sports Latin America.

On the Internet, Nissan will take center stage on, MSN’s exclusive Spanish-language sports destination, via a dedicated Copa Nissan Sudamericana mini site that will feature customized content, a fantasy league, player and team profiles, statistics, results and highlights.

In print, Fox Sports en Español Magazine, the most widely distributed single-brand Spanish-language sports title in the United States and Latin America, will feature a series of ads promoting tune-in, as well as a Nissan-sponsored tear-out schedule designed to keep fans abreast of all the action over the five-month tournament.

The Copa Nissan Sudamericana continues to be one of soccer’s premier international club tournaments and the recent addition of Mexican teams to its roster of participating nations has helped transform the annual 34-team CONMEBOL-sanctioned tournament into one of the crown jewels of Latin American soccer.

The inaugural El Reto Final Nissan, which featured former World Cup teams from Mexico and the U.S. and aired on Fox Sports en Español in 2006, won “Best Foreign Language Program” honors at the National Association for Multi-Ethnicity in Communications’ (NAMIC) 13th Annual Vision Awards this year.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

March of Dimes grant will bring teen pregnancy outreach to Hispanic girls

The Tennessean reports here that a new March of Dimes grant will bring the Birthing Project's teen pregnancy outreach to Hispanic girls.

"The girls are paired with volunteers, called 'sister friends,' who go with them to doctor's appointments, talk to them about staying in school, offer parenting tips and occasionally head into the delivery room."

"The babies of teenage mothers in Tennessee are often born too early and too light, weighing less than 6 pounds. It's why many of them don't live to see their first birthdays."

"Studies show teenagers often have poorer pregnancies than adults because they may be unhealthy before they get pregnant, are less likely to get prenatal care early and their bodies aren't always ready for the tremendous burden of carrying a fetus to term. In Tennessee, the rates of teen pregnancy have been creeping up since 2001, after a brief decline."

"There are nearly 20 girls in Nashville's program now, and the focus is on black teens between the ages of 14 and 19, but participation isn't limited by race. The results have been encouraging."

"This month, the March of Dimes will award Nashville's Birthing Project a grant to add more girls and provide outreach to Hispanic girls."

Photo by Omar Junior

Monday, May 14, 2007

Nashville's ethnic diversity on display and hard at work in Nolensville Road restaurants

"If anywhere in Nashville represents the American Dream it is ... Nolensville Road"

Las Cazuelas stands out

The Nashville City Paper published this article lauding the ethnic food options on Nashville's Nolensville Road:

"[I]t is easy to make the argument that if anywhere in Nashville represents the American Dream it is the often maligned and misunderstood Nolensville Road."

"There is typically not a single square foot of retail space empty. In fact, more retail space is being built with small businesses opening in every nook and cranny. And, yes, if they are not national retailers, many if not most of those small businesses appear to be owned and run by legal immigrants."

"Take a drive down Nolensville and one notices a seemingly endless array of small eateries, representing a wildly divergent and diverse menu of ethnic cuisines. For all of the claimed diversity of other areas in Nashville, those seeking real diversity and choices in ethnic cuisine might consider actually going to where the city’s immigrants live and work..."

One Mexican restaurant is featured in the article - Las Cazueles at 4114 Nolensville Road - and described as "a cut above the rest" for its "fresh ingredients, more complex menu and preparation."

Friday, May 11, 2007

Norteño accordion sales in Nashville highlight intercultural musical history and familiar fear

Country music's family ties

Polka band alumni include Pee Wee King, Willie Nelson

"There was a blending"

The Los Angeles Times published this article about the increased demand in Nashville for accordions popular with norteño or conjunto musicians, and how that demand parallels increased migration to Nashville. Norteño/conjunto music has been described this way: "Though heavily influenced by German polka, you could say conjunto is the Mexican version of country music--sentimental, nostalgic, pastoral, and often embraced by the working class."

The L.A. Times article described the immigrants who have come to Nashville in recent years, and one Nashville councilman was quoted with this reaction: "'[I]t's kind of fun having the different flavors... At the same time, we don't have to lie down and give up our culture and heritage.'"

Is the influx of new music and new people a threat to old culture and heritage? Benjamin Franklin thought so, but he was worried about German immigrants changing U.S. culture and heritage, calling them, "a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them." (source: New York Times)

The sounds of norteño/conjunto music, as well as country music, are rooted in Germanic and Czech culture. Modern country music is a descendant of the immigrant influence that Benjamin Franklin feared: "The Germans did help Germanize the United States... There was a blending." - Rutgers University history and political science professor Daniel J. Tichenor, quoted in the New York Times

"In Texas, the pastoral folk music of northern Mexico (ranchero) blended with the Polka music of German immigrants to form the hybrid of conjunto. Country, too, is a hybrid, with its roots largely attributed to the folk music of Appalachia. But Tennessee isn't the only place that country developed--Texas lays claim to a lot of it, too. Much of the country sound was forged in Texas' dance halls, where German, Czech, and Mexican folk sounds merged." - Minnesota Public Radio Music Blog

"Polka, which originated from Bohemia, has also had a significant influence on norteño. Compared side-by-side, some styles of American polka may bear striking resemblance to norteño music. The polka beat is characteristic of norteño. At the turn of the 20th century, Bohemian immigrants flowed into Sinaloa, Mexico to farm the land and mine coal. German immigrants had also settled in large numbers in the cities of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon and Mazatlan, Sinaloa as early as the late 19th century. These German immigrants fueled the demand for a local brewing industry, and they also influenced the music scene by bringing the accordion and the polka rhythm, which were part of the popular music of their homeland." - Wikipedia

"A reed instrument developed in early nineteenth century Europe, the accordion is worn like a vest and consists of right and left hand keyboards that are connected by a bellows. Notes are produced by the bellows pushing air through valves which are controlled by the keyboard. The accordion is used primarily in conjunto, tejano and cowboy musics. The late accordionist Clifton Chenier set the standard for contemporary Cajun players like Zachary Richard. Basil Duhon, who works with Grand Ole Opry star Jimmy C. Newman, offers a cajun-style approach to the instrument. Flaco Jimenez is the most popular accordionist playing conjunto today." - Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

"Country fiddling reflects a considerable amount of cultural synthesis. For example, the sliding into and out of notes - one of the distinguishing features of southern fiddling - is generally thought to be a stylistic trait derived from African-American music. Popular fiddlers such as Arthur Smith and Chubby Wise brought this bluesy trait to commercial country music. The Cajun music of French Louisiana has long had a tangential, but persistent, relationship to mainstream country music, with fiddling being perhaps the most distinctive Cajun music element that has influenced country. Aspects of repertoire and style of the German, Czech and Hispanic communities in the Southwest have been incorporated into the fiddling of that region and, by extension, into regional commercial country styles." - Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

"Pee Wee King was an unlikely candidate for country music stardom. Yet as a songwriter, bandleader, recording artist, and television entertainer, he broke new ground in country music, and he helped to bring waltzes, polkas, and cowboy songs into mainstream country music during ten productive years at the Grand Ole Opry. Born Frank Julius Anthony Kuczynski into a working-class Polish-German family, he grew up in the polka-and-waltz culture of Wisconsin. His musical debut occurred at age fifteen, when he played the accordion in his father’s polka band." - Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

"Growing up in central Texas, [Willie] Nelson came under the influence of a wide diversity of abiding musical influences—not just the Grand Ole Opry stars of the day, but also more indigenous sounds: the Texas honky-tonk of Ernest Tubb, the western swing of Bob Wills, and even the German-American polka bands he often played in as a youth." - Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

See also PBS' Accordion Dreams

Photo by Lisa B

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Cuban owners of Green Hills Upholstery benefit from World Relief micro-loan

"Church-centered, grassroots" Micro Enterprise Nashville project has made over 170 loans to entrepreneur expatriates

"Everything changed for us."

The Tennessean reports here about Yadira Santana-Torres and her husband, Edgardo Martinez, owners of Green Hills Upholstery, and their micro-loan from World Relief's Micro Enterprise Nashville project:

"A master upholsterer, Martinez was working two jobs and dreaming of the day he could own his own shop. They had a dream, and they had a business plan. What this Nashville family lacked was seed money and a bank willing to take a chance on them."

"Instead of a bank, the community reached out to them with a 'micro-loan' — $10,000 to rent a storefront, buy materials and meet payroll for the first rocky months when their shop, Green Hills Upholstery, was finding its feet."

"'I don't have words to describe what it's been like,' Santana-Torres said. 'Everything changed for us.'"

"'They helped me with the accounting part, they helped me print up fliers, helped me do the advertising. They guide you through everything,' said Santana-Torres, who received a micro-loan from World Relief, a Nashville-based nonprofit that serves the refugee population. She and her husband are from Cuba."

"Over the past four years, World Relief has made 178 small loans to newcomers to Nashville. Those loans helped launch at least 20 new businesses and helped an equal number of businesses expand, said Jeremy Crawford, World Relief's director of finance."

According to its web site, "World Relief empowers, equips and strengthens churches to serve their communities, enabling them to act as beacons of hope to their people and to spread the life-changing power of Jesus Christ. Church-centered, grassroots initiatives tackle entrenched and intertwined problems of poverty – and people experience transformation in their lives, in their families, in their churches, and in their communities."

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Gentry believes welcoming, friendly culture is key to Nashville's future

Nashville mayoral candidate and current Vice Mayor Howard Gentry said that his goal as mayor would be to encourage a welcoming, friendly culture in Nashville, which he believes would help solve a host of the city's problems, according to this story in the Tennessean:

"Gentry, Nashville's vice mayor, says the city's transformation during his lifetime, a radical shift from racial segregation to integration, can happen again in other areas. He said he's running for mayor this year because he wants to overturn juvenile crime, academic underachievement, health disparities and homelessness."

"'What I look at is the fact that Nashville has been through a culture change before,' he said. 'Nashville changed from a not-so-welcoming city to the friendliest city in America. And I have been a part of that.'"

"'So that is where that belief comes. I've seen us do it, and we can do it again with the problems that we're having right now in our community.'"

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Some Nashville employers encourage applicants to buy fake immigration papers, some write law to escape $1000 fine

"They don't check over here"

$1000 fine removed from bill requiring employers to check immigrant database

WSMV Channel 4 reported here that it caught multiple Nashville employers telling a supposed job applicant that fake immigration papers, or no immigration papers at all, would not be a problem in getting hired.

A Hispanic WSMV producer approached various businesses, and this was a typical exchange:

"The producer asked the manager if fake immigration papers would be OK."

"'Yes. Everybody in here has those. They don't check over here,' the manager said."

One wonders - are employers being scrutinized for their behavior as much as their immigrant employees are?

Enforcement of immigration law against employers is on the rise, but the number of employers charged with knowingly hiring illegal immigrants is still less than 1000 per year, according to this April 23 article in the Houston Chronicle: "Criminal charges have been filed this year against 527 people, compared with 718 for all of fiscal 2006 and just 25 in fiscal 2002."

In regard to the new immigration laws winding their way through the Tennessee state legislature, employers weren't able to derail a bill to force them to check immigration status, but they did successfully knock out a provision that would punish them for breaking the law. According to this story in the Tennessean, the Tennessee State Senate passed a bill to require employers to conduct immigration status background checks, but it "was amended at the request of business interests ... to do away with fines of up to $1,000 per violation against employers who don't do the required background checks."

Are we comfortable with punishing only the outsider for his business deal with an insider? If both sides were pursued and punished equally and to the full extent of the law, would the law continue to exist in its current form?

It can't be inevitable that U.S. employers, who have a vote and influence in the legislative and executive branches, will be treated better than their voteless and uninfluential immigrant employees for an employment contract they both willingly entered into. Because visaless expatriates will never be able to vote, it is up to conscientious legislators, citizens and groups like the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition to speak for balance, fairness, and how those values apply to our employment laws and their enforcement.

Photo by Nikita Kashner

Monday, May 7, 2007

Chavez out at Tennessee Hispanic Chamber; rumors of merger with Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber

Eight-year control by founders comes to a forceful close

Board Chairman Ramon Cisneros continues as acting president

Robert Chavez has been permanently removed from the presidency of the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce*, marking the first time in the eight years since its inception that this chamber does not have a founder serving as its President. The control of the organization was tightly held by its two founders Greg Rodriguez and Robert Chavez. Rodriguez served as President until his death in June 2005 (story here), when Chavez was named his successor (story here). The way the pair obtained and maintained authority at the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber was one of the reasons the separate Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce* was formed, according to the December 9, 1999 edition of the Tennessean:

"Less than three months after the public launch of a Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a rival Hispanic chamber is vying for members and political stature. Founding members of the second organization said they were dismayed that the first chamber's founders appointed themselves to administrative positions and didn't get a consensus from the Hispanic business..."

The Nashville Scene broke the story here that the Board of Directors would let Chavez go after suspending him earlier this year (the Scene also broke the story of the suspension here and ran a cover story here describing Chavez's alleged bad behavior, which was the apparent reason for the suspension itself.)

The Tennessean reported that, with Chavez's departure, the long-running rumors of a merger between the various Nashville-based Hispanic chambers* are circulating again (story here). Some Hispanic Nashvillians believe that having two groups is unnecessarily divisive, but Yuri Cunza of the Nashville Area Hispanic chamber is quoted in the article as saying that there are legitimate reasons for separate groups.

The Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's press release is below:

The Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce has decided not to restore Robert Chavez as its president. By a unanimous vote the board of directors decided it was best to move forward under new leadership.

'We thank Robert Chavez for his assistance and taking the helm during a period of transition several years ago. We want to be very clear that Robert was not guilty of any unlawful acts against the Chamber. It was a matter of philosophical differences. Ramon Cisneros, board chairman will continue as acting president until the election of another president,' said Peter Woolfolk, public relations advisor to the Chamber.

*Hispanic Chamber 101: There are four Hispanic chambers of commerce in Middle Tennessee: the three active chambers (in alphabetical order) are the Franklin Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The Tennessean profiled these three chambers in this article in June 2006. A fourth chamber was incorporated in 2006 (the Middle Tennessee Hispanic Chamber of Commerce), but no activities have been announced.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Cornerstone Church welcomes one thousand Hispanic worshippers in Cinco de Mayo festival

The Tennessean reports here that Cornerstone Church welcomed over 1,000 Hispanic worshippers at its Cinco de Mayo event yesterday.

The paper reported that organizers said that "The festival was part of the church's plan 'to focus on reaching Nashville in 2007."

Friday, May 4, 2007

Cinco de Mayo event e-mail from Latin Market Communications

Latin Market Communications, a marketing and public relations agency specializing in the Hispanic market, sends out occasional e-mails with community events as well as job listings. The following Cinco de Mayo events were published in the latest LMC e-mail:

12-4PM. Free groceries, free clothes, free doctor consultations, free eye exams, free food, music, inflatables for the children, booths. Take I65 S to Franklin, take a right off the exit onto 96/Murfreesboro Road. Go a few miles and Pinkerton Park is on the right before you reach the Franklin Square.

6-10PM. music, prizes, and lots of fun.

11am to 3pm. Village West Apartments, 4404 Tennessee Avenue, Nashville , TN 37209. Festival of the Nations and Village West Apartments celebrate this day with songs, dances, and foods from the Latin Nations. Games available for children! Free Admission!

12PM-4PM. 188 Thompson Lane, Nashville, TN.

1132 Murfreesboro Rd. Nashville, TN.

following the Peruvian Consulate's visit. Madison Church of Christ. 106 Gallatin Pike North, Madison, TN. 37115.

Liberty Park, Franklin, TN. call 595-7444 for more information

11AM -7PM. Belmont University Center campus, 17th Ave South and Wedgewood Blvd.

'Tango by Moonlight' ... with a Mexican Flair!?
7:00 to 10:00 PM ? Event Shelter, Centennial Park? FREE!!

11 am. 604 8th Ave. South? Nashville, TN 37203. great music, food, drink, and bargains galore.

$5, 10pm. Tigers Con Queso. 211 Greenland Drive , Murfreesboro, TN 37130

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Tango by Moonlight May 5

Tango Nashville is hosting "Tango by Moonlight" at Centennial Park on May 5. The event was featured prominently in the regular Tennessean feature Ms. Cheap as an entertaining but inexpensive event.

Tango by Moonlight
Saturday, May 5, 2007
7:00 to 10:00 PM

Contact Diana Holland, President

Centennial Park, Event Shelter
West End Ave. and 25th. Ave. N
Nashville, TN 37204

FREE!! - RAIN OR SHINE (Event Shelter is covered)

Come out and enjoy a MAGICAL night with Tango Nashville, featuring:

- Tango Live music by Tango Trio PAD
- Tango Live dance performances by Tango Nashville’s Troupe
- An Introduction to Argentine Tango lesson by Tango Nashville’s own Artistic Director, MariaPia De Pasquale.

We will also have door prizes and Latin music with plenty of dance time!

Bring your packed dinner and relax under a full lit moon with friends and family.

Photo by Peter Forret

Five Latin-American Artists at The Palette

Artists from Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico

Reception May 4

The Palette Art Gallery is showing works from five Latin-American artists through May 19. A reception will be held Friday, May 4, from 6-9pm. More information available by clicking on the flyer.

Tennessee 6th from top of list of states with most hate groups

The Tennessean reports here that the Southern Poverty Law Center "found 35 active hate group chapters in the state in 2006." That makes Tennessee the sixth most popular state for such groups.

"At least 12 of the 35 groups in the state are based in Middle Tennessee, according to the center, a non-profit civil rights organization."

"Overall, the 844 hate groups in the country marked a 5 percent increase from the 2005 list. Hate groups have increased 40 percent in the United States since 2000, according to the study."

Photo by Leo Reynolds

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Is building a home worse than burning it down?

Statute of Limitations for Immigration

Nationwide Call-in Days May 1-3 for comprehensive immigration reform

Statute of Limitations for Immigration

Bring back the statute of limitations for illegal immigration

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition is promoting the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform's designatation of May 1-3 as "Nationwide Call-in Days". The CCIR announcement is below.

Something needs to be done about a bureaucracy that looks more like a bear trap than an admissions policy, so calling in is important. I am fascinated, however, by the apparent national silence about the absence of a statute of limitations for illegal immigration. This glaring omission in federal law is highlighted in the ad above and put into historical context here by Professor Mae Ngai ("Only the most serious crimes, such as kidnapping and murder, carry no statutes of limitations..."), and I wrote about it previously in the Hispanic Nashville Notebook here:

"...consider crime, which we abhor. We recognize the benefits to society of plea bargains, probations, parole, and time off for good behavior. The concept of a statute of limitations, which limits the amount of time the government can punish a crime, contains this American value of balance. But currently, there is no statute of limitations for immigration violations - an arsonist can get in less trouble after a decade than a family of illegal immigrants*! Immigration law is clearly out of balance with our American values in our other laws - the ones that apply to us."

"The problem with the [2006] Senate bill isn't that it provides legal status to immigrants; it's that the legal status is a one-shot grant of legal status, not a systemic change. This makes it similar to the 1986 law. What we need instead is a systemic change to provide reasonably accessible methods to immigrate legally and also to convert to legal status after illegal immigration."

So call in to Congress today and tomorrow during the "Nationwide Call-in Days," but don't just hit the normal talking points. Let's start discussing the return of the statute of limitations for illegal immigration.



Call your Senators and urge them to move quickly to get real comprehensive immigration reform now. The country needs action!

Keep the momentum for immigration reform surging ahead - call this number and follow the instructions to connect to the offices of your Senators:

Call between 9:00am and 5:00pm Eastern time to have a better chance of connecting with the Senate offices.

When you call, you will hear a recording

1) The system will scan your phone number (or ask you to enter it) to verify your Senators.

2) The system will ask which Senator you would like to be connected to.

3) Before connecting, you will hear a brief message about immigration reform to deliver.

4) After the message, you will be connected to your Senator.

5) After you are done, be sure to call again and connect to your other Senator's office.

Tell your Senators:


Together we can make it happen - thank you for your efforts!

*"Section 3295 of Title 18, United States Code, which was enacted on April 24, 1996, provides for a 10 year statute of limitations for certain non-capital arson..."

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The Southern Perspective

Bridget Rivera

"A pride of who you are and where you came from. The same can be said of being Latino."

by Bridget Rivera

"The South."

Your connotation of those two words depends on where you're from. To the rest of the U.S. when you say you're from "the south" it's like you're from a different country. You become the token southerner. You might get treated like a foreign exchange student where you are asked to name simple items just so they can hear your accent.

But in the south, being from here is like like having an automatic kinship with every other southerner you meet, whether it be "up north" or the next state over. Claiming your southern-ness, in the south is a form of boasting. It's something to be said with pride. A pride of who you are and where you came from.

The same can be said of being Latino.

You become a token if your ethnicity isn't obvious and has to be "figured out." You are asked to name simple things to find out their name - or my personal favorite, "Say something in Spanish." If you hear someone speaking Spanish in the store or see someone's car with your flag on it you feel a kinship with that person regardless if you have spoken to that person before or not. When non-latinos ask if you are Hispanic you answer in a clear voice filled with pride.

As a Latina from the south I am glad to say that I have pride for both my geological and ethnic background. When people ask me where I'm from I state loud and proud "Tennessee."

And then that always-ugly question, "What are you?"

After being a smart-aleck and replying, "A girl, DUH," I say with an equal amount of pride:


Reprinted with permission from Your Spanish Link, LLC

May 1 immigrant marches scheduled elsewhere but not in Nashville

There will be immigrant rallies around the country today, but not in Nashville.

In March of 2006, thousands of immigrants and allies marched peacefully in downtown Nashville (story here), in tandem with marches around the country. The marchers were catalyzed by a U.S. House vote to felonize all 12 million immigrants who don't have a valid visa - the "vast majority" of whom are ordinary, hardworking people, according to President George W. Bush (quoted here). That bill is no longer on the table. Also, according to this article in the New York Times, increased deportations have made some people nervous.

"Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, facing intense political pressure to toughen enforcement, removed 221,664 illegal immigrants from the country over the last year, an increase of more than 37,000 — about 20 percent — over the year before, according to the agency’s tally."

(Of note from that article: "'We are not calling for I.C.E. to become the Gestapo knocking on doors in the middle of the night,' said Rosemary Jenks, director of government relations for NumbersUSA, a group in Washington that seeks to curb immigration.")

USA Today has a similar story about this year's marches here.
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